Monday 27 October 2008

NFL Wembley 2008

Yesterday afternoon saw us taking a trip off to Wembley again to watch the NFL. This time the Saints taking on the Chargers.
NFL 001
We arrived at Wembley Park station and took the walk up Wembley Way (although apparently it is actually called Olympic Way!) . Despite the promises of rain, rain and more rain although cloudy it stayed dry. We stopped only to buy a program, whereupon I comment to Rich "No free stuff this year"... although we were fairly unimpressed with the Dolphins turquoise towels last year.
We arrived in plenty of time, and quickly made our way into the stadium. Technology has progressed since last year as the turnstile operators seem to be there only to make sure nobody gets stuck as you present your ticket into an electronic scanner.
I then had to join the 'ladies search line'. Unfortunately although two turnstiles had been labelled such there was only one female security guard. Bottleneck.
By now we thoroughly deserved a beer. Be prepared to take out a small bank loan to eat and drink at Wembley. £3.80 for a pint of (indifferent) beer and over £5 for a burger. Steep.
We took our seats just in time for the pre-match ceremonies. First of all were a couple of songs by the Stereophonics whilst two mini-blimps with banners were paraded round the pitch.
NFL 005 
Now (at last) it was time for the teams to take to the pitch. The Chargers as the designated 'away' team came out first through the guard of honour of cheerleaders and a bit of dry ice.
NFL 014
Unfortunately somebody didn't tell the Saints to come out of the same tunnel, and they snuck out the side tunnel - causing general confusion around the ground.
NFL 018 
This was followed by the unfurling of two giant flags (one each for the UK and US) by assembled soldiers. Very patriotic. Very American. This was accompanied by renditions of the National Anthems. Clearly all the spectators watch enough American sport to know just the right moments to cheer at the end of the 'Stars and Stripes'. Joss Stone was on stage to do 'God Save the Queen' which she did well enough, but it really doesn't lend itself to the theatrics she attempted at the end.
NFL 022
Time at last for the coin toss, and then at last the game begins. I haven't many photos of the game as it is hard to capture the plays, and much more fun to actually watch the game anyway!
NFL 029
Half time saw a New Orleans type Carnival. This year they went around the track at the side of the pitch, presumably to allow the ground staff full and unfettered access to replacing divots in the turf.
NFL 040
NFL 043
NFL 050
The second half began - and was over all too fast. Happily the Saints won the game (I was supporting the Saints) and I now tip them to follow in the footsteps of my mighty Giants and win the Superbowl. Reasons 1) the team that won the game at Wembley won the Superbowl and 2) the team that Jeremy Shockey played for in London won the Superbowl. Tenuous, very tenuous.
NFL 055